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Gym owners request restraining order over North Carolina's coronavirus rules

Gym owners request restraining order over North Carolina's coronavirus rules
© Stefani Reynolds

A group of North Carolina gym owners filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking a restraining order against Gov. Roy Cooper (D) for not allowing them to open their doors under phase two of the state’s reopening plan.

Cooper said last week that certain businesses would be allowed to reopen May 22 but that gyms and other indoor entertainment venues would remain closed, citing the greater risk of the spread of coronavirus.

“Although our metrics are relatively stable, we have seen an increase in hospitalizations and positive cases over the last few days,” Dory MacMillan, the press secretary for the governor’s office, told the Charlotte News & Observer.

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“Phase 2 is a modest step to boost the economy while protecting public health, and Governor Cooper and state health officials will continue to work with the private sector as we move forward,” MacMillan added.

The state has not yet made clear when gyms will be allowed to reopen, although the state has said most businesses will be allowed to reopen in some capacity by phrase three.

The third phase is expected to be reached no earlier than June 26, and it hinges on several benchmarks including a two-week decline in the percentage of positive coronavirus tests.

The nine plaintiffs in the lawsuit own gyms, a personal training studio and a martial arts training business, according to the newspapers.

NC Department of Health and Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said Thursday that gyms are particularly high-risk due to a combination of heavier breathing, increasing the spread of the virus through airborne droplets, and the decreased likelihood of people wearing facial coverings while working out.

“It’s not an issue related to sweat,” she said. “It is really more about the heavier breathing that you do naturally when you are doing any of the athletics in a gym setting.”

“It’s not to say we can never move there and it’s too risky ever,” she added. “I think this is just about taking a measured approach so that we are going to do some of these other activities.”